First thing I did was to go onto my Dive store page. Jaya had set-up a virtual page for my workshop for real-life sales but I personally think checking the sales on Dive was a better gauge of how well my suits were doing. Not everyone has eighty thousand credits laying around to buy a real Jumpbot-S, but a few thousands in DP for a virtual version was much more doable.
As I expected, the sales for my Jumpbots had tapered off. It had been a few weeks since I had put the Jumpbot and Jumpbot-S on sale so it wasn’t that surprising but as I strolled through the comments left behind on my store page, I was pleasantly surprised by how well received they were.
“Steambot is a classic. Jumpbot is classic+!”
“An improvement on an old design without sacrificing on the spirit of steam and clockwork.”
“So good I ordered a RL version of it!”
Most of the comments on the page were very encouraging but as I continued on, I found that there were some haters out there.
“Overrated. DON’T BUY!”
“Victor Sage would be turning in his grave at this abomination.”
“Never heard of The Fat Tinkerer before this, and with a name like that, never want to again!”
Of course there was going to be some haters and I generally ignored them, no matter how stupid or insensitive they were. Some people no doubt designed their comments to be nothing but hurtful but unfortunately for these people, a fat guy like me was pretty much immune to such prettiness. I glanced through the comments page and even checked on which world players were using my suits on.
Unlike my real-life store, I found that most of the sales on Dive were for the Jumpbot and using the Dive store tracking feature, I saw that almost all the buyers were playing in LoW. The few players who bought the Jumpbot-S were playing on various other game worlds with no fixed point of interest. I called up the System to see my current mission.
Mission: Create Your Second Battlesuit
You had just started your long journey as a weapons designer and every step of it is important. Design a Grade 1 Battlesuit and put it up for sale on Dive.
Note: A variant of your Grade 0 Battlesuit is not acceptable.
I completed three missions and only got one new mission to replace them. Seems mightily unfair to me but there was nothing I could do about it. The System had always been stingy with its missions, giving them out one at a time, and it looks like finishing several missions at the same time won’t change that. The only good thing was that the System would still reward me even if I unknowingly complete the missions.
I would much prefer to know the missions perimeters beforehand and work towards them but the System refused to give out anymore missions and on this, I’m at its mercy. I switched to my Jobs and Skills tab.
Battlesuit Designer- Trainee Tinkering
Marketer- Trainee Quick-Thinking Promotion
With all its numerous tabs, I found the System to be a little unwieldy and wanted to streamline it. Rather surprisingly, the System allow it. It seems that my father had thought of this and had programmed the System to allow his descendants to make minor changes to it.
Unfortunately, he did not make it easy. As advanced as it was, the System wasn’t design for personalization and it took me some time, and much tinkering, before I managed to condense both the Jobs and Skills tabs into one single tab.
A tab that was currently embarrassingly empty...I guess Jaya was somewhat right. I really do need to come up with something new. Using the Dive filter, I pulled up all the Grade 1 Battlesuits available and then narrow down the search to Battlesuits that could be used in LoW. As I already had a name on LoW, it made sense for me to make a Battlesuit that could be used in that gameworld. The Dive search function went to work and I went through the shortened list. It did not take long before I noticed a Battlesuit I had some experience with; The Maid of Orléans.
A famous Grade 1 Battlesuit that not only operates in LoW but was also known to be highly modifiable? The Maid tick so many of my boxes it was as if it was a gift from the heavens. The Maid suits my purpose perfectly but realizing the mistake I made with the Jumpbot, I stopped myself from beginning immediately.
With the Jumpbot, I just immediately began changing the suit without a plan. I went in with vigor and enthusiasm, but with no idea what I wanted to do. The result was a day of frustration. I was not about to make the same mistake twice.
I brought up the image of the Maid of Orléans on the console and much like what I did with the Steambot, I used two of the three screens to view the inside and outside of the suit. The last screen ran articles on the Maid as well as some footage of the Battlesuit.
The information gathering didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. Although the Maid of Orléans was as famous as the Steambot, there were a lot of differences between the two. Unlike the Steambot which was known for it’s toughness, the Maid of Orléans was a suit known for it’s quickness and accuracy. It was a clockwork exoskeleton suit that increased the operator’s speed and most people mainly used the Maid as a skirmisher with the hit-and-run tactic being the firm favorite. The Maid also has a reputation of being easy to operate.
While checking up on the suit, I couldn’t help but remember Steamstorm71. That player was an experienced Maid of Orléans operator and I remember him having several kills during the match. I also remember his weapons, a pair of clockwork pistols that were clearly designed by someone else. To me, the weapons were the key.
I did a quick search on Dive for variants of the Maid and when the results came out, my fears were realized. The Maid of Orléans was a quick nimble suit and there wasn’t much anyone could improve on that front. Most designers had the same thought as me and instead focused on improving the suit’s offensive capabilities. That meant that Dive market was already saturated with several versions of the Maid with their own specially designed weapons. With a quick glance, I saw pistols, rifles, knives, swords, even one that was armed with a tomahawk! I do not want my version to another suit in the crowd. I knew I had to do something to stand out.
With offense already taken, that left defense but as I looked through the specs of the Maid, I realized that was easier said than done. Joan Waterson had optimized the suit with speed and evasion in mind and the suit had almost no armor to speak of. The Maid was never designed to take a hit and though I could change that, it would mean sacrificing the suit’s much vaulted speed.
It was a simple trade-off. More armor means more weight which equals to less speed. Such trade-offs were almost inevitable in variants but I did have a lump in my throat at the thought.
“If only I had a way to improve the defense of the Maid without sacrificing some of it’s speed.” Before I know it, my eyes drifted to the invisible safe and a crazy came to mind. “The cards?”